Saturday, 17 January 2015
PANEER is a type of unripened cheese popular in the Indian subcontinent. It is easy to make and is completely vegetarian. If you are living outside India, it may not be available at your local supermarket. You may have to travel to an Indian shop and look for it in the frozen section. Do not worry, if soaked in warm water for 1hour, frozen paneer tastes equally good as fresh ones. Alternatively we can prepare it at home with cow milk and lemon juice/vinegar.
Paneer seems to be a very good vegetarian option to me. Its popular all over the Indian sub-continent. However, in Bengal, it is in use for merely about 15-20 years. Many a fish loving Bengali still do not have it in their favourite list. But from the day it was available fresh in the local sweet shops, it became a favourite at our home. At my parental home, one day in a week has always been a full vegetarian day. Me and my brother called it a doom's day. We did all weird things hoping mom would change her decision.....we stopped talking to her on that day....ran away to friend's house for a taste of fish. Our mommy dear, undaunted, used to give examples of good children in the neighbourhood who loved veggies, hence had beautiful skin and hair. It did not inspire us at all. Time changed me.....I got wiser and love veggies now.....but accompanied with a fish/meat/egg curry....
Matar Paneer is more of a North Indian dish. I love their thick gravies using cream and off course garam masala. I do it my own way with simple spices adding a dash of butter at the end. Goes well with both steamed rice and roti. I used store bought paneer.
Paneer : 250gm
Green Peas : 1/2 cup
Tomato : 2[medium]
Ginger Paste : 1tbsp
Cumin Powder : 1and 1/2 tsp
Green Chilli Paste : 1tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder : 1tsp[only adds colour, no heat]
Garam Masala Powder : 1tsp
Cumin Seed : 2pinches
Bayleaf : 1
Butter : 1tsp
Salt : As required
Turmeric : 1tsp
Oil : 3tbsp
Soak the paneer pieces in warm water for 1 hour. Take out and add salt. Wash, cut and deseed the tomatoes and make a paste in the blender. Get the ginger and green chilli paste done separately. Wash and add little salt to the green peas.
Heat oil in a wok. Keep a big bowl beside half filled with warm water. Lightly fry the paneer pieces in batches and drop into the warm water. This helps the paneer to remain soft.
Temper the same oil with a bayleaf and cumin seeds. Add the ginger paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. Add the chilli paste and tomato paste. Fry till the paste separates from the oil. Add salt, turmeric, cumin powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and the green peas. Fold in well.
Now add 1 coffee mug of water. Cover and let boil at medium to low heat. When the gravy gets thicker, add the paneer pieces and garam masala powder. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, give a stir and switch off gas. Its done!
Enjoy with rice or chapatis!!